Sep222015

Arctic Norway and whales

Telling travelers and flight crew yesterday that I was returning to San Francisco, California from Arctic Norway evoked an inquisitive response from people interested in a place where relatively few Americans have traveled.

“Did you see the northern lights?” – That is more of a late fall and winter months phenomenon.

“Was it gorgeous?” – yes, the few hours over four days when the clouds and rain were not obscuring everything.

Harstad cloudy view   Sunny Harstad

These two photos were taken at close to the same perspective from the dock in Harstad.

There was one cool experience from this same dock. While standing outside Hotel Arcticus in Harstad on the dock about 15 feet above the surface of the sea looking down, I realized I was seeing small fish popping up to the surface and creating circular water ripples on the calm sea surface. I realized there was a school of small fish containing hundreds of fish about three to five inches long as I watched closely for several minutes from the dock. Then, I noticed there were some larger fish, over 12 inches in length, swimming around the smaller fish. That was a cool sighting.

Seeing Whales in Norway 

“Did you see whales?” – I did not see any marine mammal life after three days by the sea in Arctic Norway. I asked a couple of locals if they had ever seen whales in the waters around Harstad? “No.”

Nearby, Andenes was mentioned as the place to go for whale watching tours.

One minke whale, named Heiko, became a Lofoten Islands celebrity last year when she entered a harbor near the airport in Svolvaer and stayed for months.

Heiko, adult female minke whale near Svolvaer Airport.

After Escaping Whaling Ships, One Whale is Changing Norwegian Attitudes on Whale Meat (Oct 24, 2014).

Last year was a record for Norwegian whalers in recent decades with 720 minke whales killed. Lofoten Islands are the primary whale hunting waters in Norway.

For whale watching I stay at home in Monterey.

Loyalty Traveler – Whale of a show at Point Lobos (August 29, 2015).

There was even a local celebrity minke whale in the boat harbor of Monterey last month. Monterey Herald – Baby whale rescued from Monterey Harbor.

Monterey’s ‘Minnie the Minke’ whale was not a baby, may have suffered poisoning.

I did see some minke whales in Bergen, Norway earlier this month.

whale meat

Minke whale meat (dark meat chunks in center) at Bergen fish market priced at 590 NOK/kg. That is about $2.00/oz or $32/lb.

The Bergen fish market was slow at the time I stopped by one evening a couple weeks ago to admire some enormous live crabs and lobsters in a large fish tank.  I was calculating how much more expensive fish types were in Norway compared to what I pay in Monterey. When the vendor approached me, I told him I was not a buyer. I said I come from a fishing town in California and I pay far less for most of the fish and shellfish I was seeing in the Bergen market. He cut off a 1 to 2 oz. chunk of whale meat and offered it to me, saying, “You can’t get this in California. This is minke whale meat and tastes like roast beef.”

I politely refused and left the Bergen fish market.

Related Posts:

68.8° N in Harstad, Norway

Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus Harstad, Norway

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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